In the names of the fallen

A crowd variously described as ''a large concourse''  and ''a very large gathering'' witnessed...
A crowd variously described as ''a large concourse'' and ''a very large gathering'' witnessed the formal unveiling of the Soldiers' Memorial on Otago Peninsula. .JPG
The fallen recorded on the Otago Peninsula Soldiers' Memorial deserve to have their names remembered, journalist and historian Ron Palenski writes.

In a national landscape that is dotted with memorials to the dead of 20th-century wars, the Soldiers' Memorial on Otago Peninsula is one of the most prominent. The stone figure of a World War 1 infantryman gazes towards the Otago Harbour entrance as if in eternal vigilance against attack on the city of Dunedin which lies far below to his left.

The memorial can be seen from all over Dunedin, silhouetted on the peninsula skyline.

It is a fitting place for men with a connection to the peninsula to be remembered, men who went off to war with hope in their hearts and duty in their souls and who did not come home. The monument is striking both for its positioning and its concept.

Designed by architect Edward Walter Walden and sculpted by Robert Hosie, the infantryman in greatcoat with rifle slung over his left shoulder stands about 3m tall atop a bluestone column of about 10m.

Together, they are fixed on top of what used to be known as ''the Big Stone'' but which shortly before the memorial unveiling in 1923 was renamed Arthur's Seat, after the massif that towers over Edinburgh.

The land was donated by Margaret Robertson, whose family had farmed in the area from the earliest days of Scottish settlement. The land surrounding the memorial is farmed by Don Lyttle, a direct descendant of the original settlers.

The weather was not kind the day the memorial was unveiled. The Rev Andrew Cameron, one of the leading Presbyterian figures in New Zealand at the time, provided the religious accompaniment and the local member of Parliament, James Dickson, the secular.

But Cameron also delved into pre-Christian times when he quoted from The Iliad:''The brave meets danger, and the coward fleesTo die or conquer, proves a hero's heartAnd knowing this, I know a soldier's part.''

How many people were there for the unveiling was not recorded: it was ''a large concourse'' in the Otago Daily Times and ''a very large gathering'' in the Evening Star. During the formal ceremony the people, said to be from all over the city and the peninsula, sheltered as best they could in the lee of the great rock from the southerly that swept in over Tomahawk and Andersons Bay.

It is not difficult to imagine among them the mothers, the fathers, the widows, the brothers and sisters, those for whom this became the surrogate grave of the men they had farewelled with an emotional mix of pride and trepidation not long before.

I see the memorial practically every day and decided one day to climb the hill and find what manner of men these were whose memory remains in such a lofty place. Their names were inscribed into a granite tablet fixed to the base of the bluestone cairn. The order of service for the unveiling and the three Dunedin newspapers (the weekly Otago Witness was the third) said there were 49 names on the tablet. But there are not. There are 52 names there under the heading: ''Otago Peninsula Fallen Soldiers Memorial. Roll of Honour.''

A comparison of the names on the plaque with names in the nominal roll of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force showed inconsistencies while some were not even on the roll. Some names were spelt differently, some initials and some ranks were different.

There are errors and omissions among the names, a not uncommon feature of World War 1 memorials anywhere. Conditions then were not what they are now; stonemasons could work only with what they were told and sometimes the telling was imperfect but to the best of knowledge.

The most obvious error was with one of the three officers on the plaque.

''Lieut W. Stewart'' appears in the almost-alphabetical order of the names but then ''Lieut W. Stuart'' appears last. It seems the mason must have been told how Stuart should have been spelt so added one but could not delete the other.

It may have been some comfort to John and Mary Stuart of Highcliff, the parents of Lieutenant William Alexander Stuart.

Gradually I compiled a database of names that appeared on the plaque compared with names I thought they ought to be.

My main sources were the nominal roll, the service records which are held at Archives New Zealand and a book that is the most poignant published in New Zealand: it lists the names of all who served in the NZEF and died in or as a result of World War 1.

There were some names that did not appear in any of those sources. Internet search engines and PapersPast are not perfect, but they are a great help.

''C.A. DeLatour'' was twice carved into the plaque but no such soldier existed. Searches revealed them to be Cecil Andrew de Lautour and Edgar Frederick de Lautour, sons of Lieutenant-Colonel Harry de Lautour, a doctor who for a time had been the principal medical officer for the Otago Volunteer District.

Cecil served with the Rhodesia Regiment in British East Africa (now Kenya) and died of disease, while Edgar served with the Australian Light Horse and was killed at Gallipoli.

Three of the men on the plaque served with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), two with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) and one with the British Expeditionary Force. Gradually, names and records came together.

The whole exercise was heavy with pathos. There were six sets of brothers other than the de Lautours. There were the Dunford boys, sons of Susan and William, of Arawa St. Patrick died first, killed in action at Ypres in December 1917.

Four months later, James was drowned at Ismailia in Egypt. Thomas at least made it home, but not for long. He had a thighbone shattered at Messines in 1917 and lay immobile but conscious in a shell-hole for two days and three nights.

He was invalided home and arrived back in Dunedin on New Year's Day, 1918. Eight months later, in Dunedin Hospital, he died of his wounds.

Two younger brothers, David and John, were still in the front line in France. It would be nice to think that Dunford Pl in Musselburgh is named for the family.

The administrative structures of the peninsula at the time are worth noting. It was called the County of Peninsula and its ''ridings'' (electorates) were Portobello, Sandymount, Highcliff, Broad Bay, North-east Harbour, Tomahawk and Andersons Bay.

The peninsula's total population in the 1911 census was just under 3000, although Maori were not then included.

Among the remembered brothers were Colin Albert and Hunter Page Fairbairn. They were sons of James Fairbairn, of Highcliff. Their mother Amelia had died in 1910. Hunter, who had taken up farming at Edendale, was the first of the two to die.

He was wounded at Gallipoli and was being evacuated to Alexandria when he died at sea. The death of his brother Colin four months later was the most challenging to track down.

It was reported in newspapers in November 1915 that he had been killed in action in France while serving with the 29th Battalion of the CEF. A death notice appeared in the Otago Daily Times on November 23, 1915 confirming that.

There could be no doubt. But, and it proved to be a big but, the nominal roll for the Canadian battalion showed no Colin Albert Fairbairn from New Zealand. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website, which is easily searchable for all Commonwealth war dead, did not have a C. A. Fairbairn either. There is a list, known as ''the Guthrie index,'' available at the Hocken Library and it purports to show the names of all New Zealanders who served with the forces of other countries. But Colin Fairbairn was not on it.

A check was made with National Archives of Australia just in case he served with the AIF rather than the CEF, even though Australian (and New Zealand) forces were nowhere near France at the time. But no.

Increasingly intrigued, I searched the CWGC site by date rather than by name. Up came the names of everyone serving in Commonwealth forces killed on September 26, 1915.

I narrowed it down to Canadians. No Fairbairn, exactly as I had anticipated. If he did not serve as a Fairbairn, he must have served under another name.

What was a likely looking Dunedin name, I wondered. There was a C. McDonald. I called him up. Yes, 29th Battalion, but no information about next of kin. So I went back to the CEF nominal roll, also available online, thank goodness, and put in his name.

I could read the first and last pages of his attestation paper, the initial statement that accompanied all soldiers' records. And there it was: this C McDonald was Colin and he was born in Dunedin on January 20 1892, but listed the next of kin as a T. A. McDonald, of British Columbia.

He enlisted in Vancouver. The next step was to get Colin Fairbairn's birth certificate and it showed that he was indeed born on January 20 1892. It had to be the same man. For a reason yet to be determined (and one that might never be) Fairbairn enlisted, served and died as McDonald.

Research of most names on the plaque was straightforward compared with that one. But all the men's stories made sorrowful reading.

Take Guy Bridgeman. He was 22 when he joined the first troops to leave, the Main Body, as a trooper in the Otago Mounted Rifles. He was among the small group of New Zealanders who first saw action in the war when turning back a Turkish attack on the Suez Canal.

He afterwards went to Gallipoli where, after five months of that campaign, he was shot through the lungs by a sniper. When he returned to active service in January 1916, he transferred to the Field Artillery in France and was commissioned. The Somme, Messines, Passchendaele, Bridgeman went through them all.

He won the Military Cross in 1917 for tending to and rescuing a wounded man while under fire. Late in 1917, he was entering a German pillbox when he was hit by machine-gun fire.

He was evacuated to London and eventually home. Back in New Zealand and recovering from his wounds, Bridgeman joined a reinforcement draft and went to Featherston camp.

There, he was a victim of a different enemy, the influenza pandemic, and he died three days after Armistice Day. The most senior officer listed on the plaque, Captain John Bishop, a member of the permanent force and thus the only professional soldier listed, also died of disease.

Five of the men, including the de Lautour brothers, also served in the Boer War.

Ron Palenski thanks Ian Farquhar and Don Lyttle for their assistance with research.


Roll of honour 

10286 Corporal Robert Gentle Allan

2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, Somme, October 1, 1916

Remembered on Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial

Sonof Matthew and Ethel Allan, of 28 Maclaggan Street, Dunedin


3082114 Private James Lewis Bayne

78thBattalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Died of wounds, Rouen, France, October 10, 1918

Buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen (S. II. Q. 19)

Son of Peter and Margaret Bayne of Northeast Harbour, Dunedin


25/1222 Captain John Bishop

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Died of disease, Fulham Military Hospital, London, January 15, 1917

Buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, Woking, Surrey (VIII. E. 6.)

Husband of Rose Bishop, of Onehunga


47700 Private George Braid

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Died of disease (contracted on war service), Dunedin, December 3, 1920

Buried in Anderson’s Bay Cemetery (block 71S, plot 6A)

Son of Mrs Mary Braid, Woodhaugh

9/152ndLieutenant Guy Fyans Clive Bridgeman MC

NewZealand Field Artillery, NZEF

Died of disease, Featherston Military Camp, November 14, 1918

Buriedin Featherston Cemetery (plot 668)

Son of Frederick and Florence Bridgeman of Dunedin

The citation for his Military Crossread: ''February 26th to September 20th 1917.'An exceptionally plucky young officer. He has done very good work as Forward Observation Officer at different times. He was F.O.O for hisbattery at Messines and established an Observation Post well forwardwhen the infantry reached their final objective. During acounterattack the enemy putdown a barrage which wounded one of histwo telephonists and, underfire, Lieutenant Bridgeman dressed theman's wound and acarried him back to a dress station.'' - LondonGazette, January 1, 1918, 


9/409 Driver Edward Gunning Brookes

2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, New Zealand Field Artillery, NZEF

Died of wounds, northern France, July 7, 1917

Buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France (III. D. 219.)

Son of S. L. Brookes, Dunedin

2619A Private Andrew Gray Cowie

51st Battalion, 13th Brigade, Australian Imperial Force

Died of wounds, northern France, March 31, 1917

Buried in Bapaume Australian Cemetery (A. 36)

Son of Margery Cowie of Dunedin, and Peter Cowie

Brother of Bertie Shiel Cowie


40889 Private Bertie Shiel Cowie

3rd Battalion, Otago Regiment, NZEF

Died of wounds, Belgium, October 5, 1917

Buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3 (I. K. 9.)

Son of Margery Cowie of Dunedin and Peter Cowie

Brother of Andrew Gray Cowie


8/561 Private John Davis

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, Messines, June 7, 1917

Buried at St Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery, Heuvelland, West Flanders(II. L. 12.)

Son of Michael and Janet Davis of Sandymount


10/2583 Sergeant Samuel James Wilfred Dawson

Wellington Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, the Somme, September 25, 1916

Remembered on Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial

Son of James and Annie Dawson, of Nelson, formerly of Musselburgh


465 Private Cecil Andrew de Lautour

2nd Rhodesia Regiment

Die dof disease, Kilindini, British East Africa [Kenya], November 4, 1915

Buried Nairobi South Cemetery, Kenya (section II, row C3, lot 521)

Son of Harriet Emma and Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Archibald de Lautour,who had been principal medical officer, Otago Volunteer District

Brother of Edgar Frederick de Lautour


1622 Private de Lautour also served with 15 Company, 5thContingent; 4709 Sergeant de Lautour with the 7thContingent; and 5875 Sergeant de Lautour with G Squadron, 8thContingent; Boer War, 1901-02.


82 Sergeant Edgar Frederick de Lautour

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force

Killed in action, Pope’s Hill, Gallipoli, May 25, 1915

Buried, Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli (IV. A. 30)

Son of Harriet Emma and Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Archibald de Lautour,who had been principal medical officer, Otago Volunteer District

Brother of Cecil Andrew de Lautour


5912 Private de Lautour also served with G Squadron, 8thContingent, in the Boer War, 1902.


10/1468 Donald McKenzie Dickson

Wellington Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, Gallipoli, July 18, 1915

Buried in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli (III. F. 20.)

Son of David and Murray Dickson, of Timaru; born in Portobello

Brother of Millen Stuart Dickson


59622 Private Millen Stuart Dickson

1st Battalion, Auckland Regiment

Died of wounds, northern France, September 28, 1918

Buried in Lebicquiere Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas-de-Calais

Son of David and Murray Dickson, of Timaru; born in Portobello

Brother of Donald McKenzie Dickson


3/171A Corporal William Gibson Downing

Medical Corps, on transfer to headquarters, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Died of wounds sustained at Gallipoli, Alexandria, December 14, 1915

Buried in Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery (B. 54)

Son of Kate Downing, of Andersons Bay


68913 Trooper James Henry Dunford

New Zealand Mounted Rifles

Accidentally drowned, Ismailia, Egypt, April 14, 1918

Buried in Ismailia War Cemetery, Egypt (B. 116)

Son of William and Susan Dunford, Andersons Bay

Brother of Patrick and Thomas Dunford


49357 Private Patrick Dunford

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, Ypres, Belgium, December 12, 1917

Buried in Polygon Wood Cemetery (D. 8.)

Son of William and Susan Dunford, Andersons Bay

Brother of James and Thomas Dunford


29897 Private Thomas Dunford

Auckland Regiment, NZEF

Died in Dunedin on August 13, 1918 of wounds sustained at Messines

Buried in Anderson’s Bay Cemetery (block 24 plot 31)

Son of William and Susan Dunford, Andersons Bay

Brother of James and Patrick Dunford


Colin Albert Fairbairn

(Enlisted and served as 75370 Private Colin McDonald)

29thBattalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Killed in action in Flanders, September 26, 1915

Remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (panel 18-28-30)

Son of James and the late Amelia Fairbairn, of Highcliff

Brother of Hunter Page Fairbairn


8/197 Private Hunter Page Fairbairn

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Died of wounds sustained on Gallipoli, at sea May 3, 1915

Remembered on Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli (reference 75)

Son of James and the late Amelia Fairbairn, of Highcliff

Brother of Colin Albert Fairbairn


34846 Private Robert Gall

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, Havrincourt, France, September 2, 1918

Buried in Bancourt British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais (I. A. 14.)

So nof William and Jane Gall of Andersons Bay


56 Sapper Alexander Garden

First Field Company Engineers, Australian Imperial Force

Died of wounds sustained at Gallipoli, in Alexandria, December 8, 1915

Buried in Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery (A. 59.)

Son of James and Jane Garden of Andersons Bay


9/36/ 16/36 Lance-Corporal John Geary

Otago Mounted Rifles/Māori Contingent, NZEF

Killed in action, Gallipoli, August 8, 1915

Remembered on Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial, Gallipoli (panel 24)

Son of William and the late Mary Geary of Portobello


16/271 Private Stewart Karetai

New Zealand Māori Contingent, NZEF

Killed in action at Gallipoli, August 21, 1915

Remembered on Hill 60 (New Zealand) Memorial, Hill 60 Cemetery, Gallipoli

Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Karetai of Otākou


9/2079 Private Alexander Kerr

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Died of wounds sustained at Messines, June 7, 1917

Buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France (III. C. 296.)

Son of Mary Kerr of Wellington


8/64 Private Percy William Lawless

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action on May 2, 1915 (probably), at Gallipoli

Remembered on Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli (reference 75)

Son of William and Maud Lawless of Waikouaiti


25/654 Rifleman Robert Loan

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Killed in action, the Somme, September 15, 1916

Remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial


53244 Rifleman Archie McCurdy

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Killed in action in Belgium on February 21, 1918

Buried in Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, West Flanders (IV. A. 22.)

Son of John and Elizabeth McCurdy of Andersons Bay


32700 Private James Hamilton McDonald

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action at Ypres on August 17, 1917

Buried in Maple Leaf Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium (J. 2.)

Son of the Rev George and Helen McDonald of Pukehiki


8/966 Company Sergeant-Major John Tod McGoun

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Died of wounds, Gallipoli, August 7, 1915

Remembered on Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial (14)

Husband of Alice McGoun, of Andersons Bay

5883 Corporal McGoun also served with G Squadron, 8thContingent, in the Boer War in 1902.


69029 Trooper Albert Edward McTainsh

Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Died of disease in Palestine, October 19, 1918

Buried in Jerusalem War Cemetery (Q. 120.)

Son of John and Christine McTainsh of Christchurch, formerly of Dunedin


47277 Private Alexander Marshall

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action at Polygon Wood, France, February 16, 1918

Buried in Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood (I. B. 17.)

Husband of Annabella Marshall


8/3007 Lance corporal John Forbes Menzies

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action at the Somme, September 27, 1916

Remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial

Son of James and Amy Menzies of Northeast Harbour


26/593 Rifleman Lancelot Douglas Miller

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Died after discharge in Dunedin on February 19, 1919, from woundssustained while on active service

Buried in Andersons Bay Cemetery (block 71S, plot 30)

Next of kin given as brother, W. J. Miller, Green Island


13208 Driver Thomas James Morris

New Zealand Field Artillery, NZEF

Died of wounds, Belgium, September 26, 1917

Buried in Coxyde Military Cemetery, West Flanders (IV. B. 18.)

Son of Christina Dowell (formerly Morris) of Dunedin and  ThomasMorris


67897 Rifleman George John Osmand

Third Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Killed in action at Le Cateau, France, on October 8, 1918

Buried in Anneux British Cemetery (IV. C. 7.)

Husband of Lilly Osmand, Christchurch; son of John and Mary Ann Osmand,Andersons Bay


9/1350 Hector Stuart Robertson

New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Died while training for NZEF, Dunedin, October 26, 1915

Buried in Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin (block 27, plot 56)

Son of Mary and the late William Robertson, of Pukehiki

Brother of Stanley Douglas Robertson


8/2115 Private Stanley Douglas Robertson

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Died of wounds, Gallipoli, August 11, 1915

Remembered on Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial, Gallipoli (panel 16)

Son of William and Mary Robertson, of Pukehiki

Brother of Hector Stuart Robertson


35407 Trooper Alexander Rodger

Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Died of disease, Palestine, September 29, 1918

Buried in Damascus Commonwealth War Cemetery (C. 63.)

Brother of William Rodger, of Portobello


9/752 Trooper John Walker Roger

Otago Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Killed in action at Gallipoli August 6 or 7, 1915

Remembered on Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial (panel 7)

Son of Robert and Mary Roger, of Sandymount

7951 Private Roger also served with A Squadron, 9th Contingent, in the Boer War in 1902.

9/78 Sergeant Norman Graham Ross

Otago Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Killed in action at Ypres, October 12, 1917

Buried in Passchendaele New British Cemetery (VII. A. 12.)

Son of Sarah and the late Hugh Ross of Andersons Bay


25/685 Sergeant David Adams Samuel

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Killed in action at Bapaume, France, on August 26, 1918

Buried in Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension (IV. C. 2.)

Son of Dundas and Jessie Samuel of Andersons Bay

Brother of James Elder Adams Samuel and William Samuel


267056 Rifleman James Elder Adams Samuel

The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, BEF

Killed in action September 20, 1917

Remembered on Tyne Cot Memorial (panel 31 to 34 and 162A and 163A)

Son of Dundas and Jessie Samuel of Andersons Bay

Brother of David Adams Samuel and William Samuel


43782 Trooper William Samuel

Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Killed in action, Palestine, March 30, 1918

Buried in Damascus Commonwealth War Cemetery (D. 112.)

Son of Dundas and Jessie Samuel of Andersons Bay

Brother of David Adams Samuel and James Elder Adams Samuel


10056 Private William Sanderson

Wellington Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, the Somme, October 2, 1916

Remembered on Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial

Son of Mary and James Sanderson, of Andersons Bay

5969 Private Sanderson also served with G Squadron, 8thContingent, in the Boer War in 1902.


27613 Lieutenant William Alexander Stuart

2nd New Zealand Infantry Brigade headquarters, NZEF

Killed in action, Bapaume, August 16, 1918

Buried in Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps (III. K. 4.)

Son of John and Mary Stuart, of Highcliff


23634 Private George Swann

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, Bapaume, August 16, 1918

Buried in Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps (III. K. S.)

Son of David and Jessie Swann of Dunedin


25/692 Sergeant Walter Thomson

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Killed in action, the Somme, September 15, 1916

Remembered on Caperpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial

Son of William and Mary Thomson of Andersons Bay


15268 Private William Weir

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Died of wounds, France, January 2, 1917

Buried in Estaires Communal Cemetery and Extension (III. I. 8.)

Son of Cochrane and Alison Weir of Pukehiki

 

8/1675 Private Percy Henry White

Otago Regiment, NZEF

Killed in action, Gallipoli, September 27, 1915

Remembered on Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial (panel 17)

Son of Henry and Ellen White of Andersons Bay


23/955 Second Lieutenant Frank Bernard Rushbrook Williams

New Zealand Rifle Brigade, NZEF

Killed in action, the Somme, September 17, 1916

Buried in Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers (II. J. 3.)

Son of Robert and Amy Williams of Andersons Bay


 

 

 

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